When “Hair” debuted off-Broadway in 1967, it was a musical that attempted to capture the social unrest of youth culture struggling to find its place in American society. Almost 45 years later, it serves much the same purpose. While the youth culture of 2011 might not be decked out in tie-dye and beads, the sexual, religious, and political issues that existed around the Summer of Love still make headlines today.
The mix of those issues and iconic music is what drew in Josh Lamon, a former synagogue theater kid from San Diego. Playing Father in the PNC Broadway Across America tour of “Hair,” Lamon is performing in Pittsburgh this week at Heinz Hall. He answered some questions from the road last week about the importance of “Hair,” his first show and social revolution.
Jewish Chronicle: How did you first get involved with theater?
Josh Lamon: My mother took me to see plays at a very young age, and I just fell in love with theater and wanted to perform. I started doing some youth theater at a local community theater and then got my first professional acting job in fifth grade performing in the musical “Gypsy.”
JC: What do you remember about your first time onstage?
JL: I don’t really remember my very first time onstage, but what I do know is every time I am onstage, I feel at home.
JC: Do you feel your involvement in Jewish culture helped cultivate your love for music and theater in any way? How so?
JL: I remember music, especially Jewish music, always being played in my childhood home. I also started performing with a Jewish junior theater company called “Show BIS,” or Beth Israel Students. We performed in original Jewish rock operas. It was a blast.
JC: What is your dream part?
JL: I don’t really have a dream role, per se. My dream is to work, doing what I love and performing in pieces that excite me intellectually. I love being a part of “Hair,” as I really care about the material and the message. It isn’t every day that you get to do a show that is so meaningful to you.
JC: “Hair” was a popular show decades ago. Why is it still relevant now?
JL: It is very relevant now. I think people get surprised when they come see the show. We are still living in a world that is torn apart by conflict. Whether it’s religious, political or otherwise. This is a piece that shows that you can stand up for what you believe in, in a peaceful manner. You can be patriotic and protest what you disagree with. You can still disagree with your country and its politics, but that doesn’t mean you don’t love your country with all your heart. The show is about passion. It is about celebrating life. It is about love.
JC: As a young person growing up in the 2000s, do you feel like your generation has the same restless spirit that’s captured in “Hair”?
JL: Yes and no. I feel that many people of my generation and younger don’t fight enough for what they feel is right. On the other hand, look at Egypt. A younger generation started and won a revolution.
JC: Has your experience in “Hair” changed how you feel about the power of youth culture at all?
JL: No, but it has reminded me how the people will always have the power, if we demand it.
JC: Tell me about the vibe between the cast members. I imagine it’s a pretty fun show backstage.
JL: It is a giant love fest!
JC: What kind of audience digs “Hair”? Will more traditional people like it?
JL: I think “Hair” is for everyone, no matter how you stand politically or
socially. I hope everyone can come into the theater and be taken back to this very special time period. Let our hair down. And of course, come celebrate and dance with us onstage at the end of the show. Everyone is invited.
(Justin Jacobs can be reached at email@example.com.)